One of the main arguments given for legalizing abortion in Ireland is that troubled women would become suicidal if they were forced to carry their pregnancies to term. Ironically, this was originally how abortions were made available in many US states before Roe versus Wade – as Dr. Bernard Nathanson describes in his books Aborting America and The Hand of God.
A woman in pre-Roe versus Wade New York, which had abortion laws more liberal than most of the other states, had to go to a psychiatrist and claim that she was emotionally unbalanced and would commit suicide if she was not allowed to abort her baby. Many of these meetings became “rubberstamping” sessions with their own script – a woman would say the right things, pay her hundred dollars for the “session”, and receive written permission to have an abortion, which she would then take to the abortion provider. This legal situation opened the door for abortion on demand.
But the underlying question is this: does having an abortion reduce a woman’s risk of suicide? Quite a few studies have been conducted addressing this question – and the answers they provide are very one-sided.
Researchers in Finland interviewed 600,000 women for a study that showed that women who became pregnant and had abortions were six times more likely to commit suicide than women who carried their pregnancies to term. Women who aborted were three times more likely to commit suicide than those who had not been pregnant. The statistics show that rather than increasing a woman’s chances of suicide, carrying a baby to term actually decreases them.(1) Also noteworthy was the fact that the study was based not only on interviews but also on medical records. This reliance on records in addition to testimony helped the study avoid “recall bias.” Recall bias is a phenomenon that sometimes skews the results of abortion related studies because many women who have had abortions are not willing to talk about them and will not reveal them on a questionnaire, even when asked.